Hank Williams, Jr. – Rich White Honky Blues
A late legendary country singer’s son shares his father’s name & goes vintage blues. He summons Robert Johnson, R.L. Burnside, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Jimmy Reed & Muddy Waters. Then, tosses off a few of his own. While not entirely familiar with Hank’s career I’m not certain if he ever made it a habit of doing songs such as this. If so, Hank’s got my vote & both ears.
This is raw, but Hanks a true survivor — captures it as it was meant to be. It isn’t so much slick as it has smoking juke joint authenticity. The band drives enthusiastically. The sweet heat of bottled-up blues performed in a gritty whiskey-soaked showcase — quite impressive for an artist this far out in his career field. This has a primitive allure. It’s working-class blues like John Hammond & the late John Campbell.
So, a genuine hall of fame country singer dives head first into the blues pool — goes deep & then deeper. His voice swims through these blue waters. The lyrical inflections are good – the guitars blistering at times, churning like waves in a stormy ocean. No use analyzing each tune – each has its own rewards.
This 57th LP was produced by Dave Auerbach (slide electric guitar/electric guitar/dobro/percussion/bv) with 12-cuts on Rich White Honky Blues (Drops June 17–Easy Eye Sound/Concord). It features one of the most heat-radiating tracks – Hank’s original “Call Me Thunderhead.” A new classic. Hank’s phrasing & deep tones embellish the music. Some colorful language but usually buried in the ambiance. Hank’s not always politically correct but at 72 — hey – it’s country music spiked with the blues, what did you expect? He isn’t Bing Crosby. That’s why it comes from the backwoods.
“Take Out Some Insurance,” finds Hank’s vocal somewhat forced (maybe intentional). It’s humorous & cool as he shapes his words in this piece. There’s slight country-flavored applejack to his tone blended with some blues peaches dipped in burgundy.
Hank isn’t always polite lyrically, but the music isn’t necessarily one that is well–coiffured, perfumed & with every hair in place, so to speak. No white hats on these tunes – this is bandana music. Rasp & balls. You’ll need to wipe your forehead — just when you think a song is wrapped up secure Hank pulls the knot tighter.
Criticism? Some songs (“Short Haired Woman”) provide a tint of distortion vocally. Wrong mike? The band plays with full power but the vocal? The needle in the studio must’ve been in the red. Nonetheless, Hank & the band have expertise & their blues are precise & steamy.
The band – Eric Deaton (acoustic guitar/bass), Kenny Brown (slide electric guitar/guitar), Kinney Kimbrough (drums), Tim Quinne (harmonica), Tom Bukovac (electric guitar), Ray Jacildo (piano/organ) & Bobby Wood (piano/organ).
Photo courtesy of Hank’s Facebook. The 46-minute CD @ https://hankjr.com/